Niles, Brandywine hitting the road for openers

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Niles football team will kick off the 2013 season Thursday on the road in Battle Creek against Lakeview. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Leader photo/File)

The Niles football team will kick off the 2013 season Thursday on the road in Battle Creek against Lakeview. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Leader photo/File)

Niles will take to the road to open its 2013 season as it heads to Battle Creek to face Lakeview Thursday night.

The Vikings have had six straight 4-5 seasons and have not had a winning campaign since 2003, which is also the last time Niles qualified for the MHSAA playoffs.

Second-year coach Antwon Jones doesn’t intend for that trend to continue.

Jones’ chances of turning things around hinge on a youth movement.

The offense will be run by junior quarterback Sean Craig, who hopefully will find a rhythm with senior wide receiver Darek Bullock-Mills and varsity newcomers and potential playmakers Joe Avance and Alex Harpenau.

Niles will also have to improve on the defensive side of the football. Last year the Vikings allowed 26.5 points per game. The Niles offense averaged 22.5 points per contest last year.

Lakeview was 6-4 last season, falling to Mattawan in the first round of the playoffs.

Niles and Lakeview have not met since 2008 when the Vikings won 24-9.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


Brandywine at Hobart (Ind.) River Forest

The Brandywine Bobcats coming off three consecutive winning seasons and its first berth in the post season since 2002.

The Bobcats (7-3 in 2012) are hoping to continue both of those trends this season.

Brandywine will change gears this season from being a run oriented team to one that is more diverse.

Gone from last year’s squad is top rusher Courtlan Gordon, who rushed for more than 1,600 yards and scored 23 touchdowns.

This year the offense will fall squarely on the shoulders of junior quarterback Andrew Duckett.

He passed for over 600 yards a season ago and is a three-year starter for the Bobcats.

In the backfield, Marty Ward and Charlie Rodriguez hope to fill the void left by the graduation of Gordon.

Brandywine returns eight starters on the defensive side of the football. The Bobcats allowed just under 17 points per game in 2012.

Forest River opened its season last week with a 47-8 win over Elkhart Christian Academy. The team was 2-7 in 2012.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Michigan time. Horbart is in the Central Time Zone.


Otsego at Edwardsburg

The Eddies finished last year at 6-4 and qualified for the state playoffs for the third consecutive season.

But it wasn’t easy for Edwardsburg, which was consumed by injuries.

Coach Kevin Bartz hopes that the injury bug his team had to endure last year is behind them.

The Eddies will play host to Otsego, which was also 6-4 in 2012.

Edwardsburg has switched to a 3-3-5 defense this season. The change was due to personnel, but also in hopes of improving on last year’s numbers. The Eddies allowed 27.5 points per game in 2012.

Kickoff at Leo Hoffman Field is slated for 7 p.m.